Much like becoming a general contractor or an electrician, becoming a plumber in the state of Montana requires you to complete several years of training, pass multiple examinations, and receive continuing education annually to maintain your license. The process is fairly straightforward: you must get five years of practical, hands-on experience before you can become a journeyman plumber, and then obtain another four years of experience to achieve the status of master plumber in Montana.
All plumbers must hold an active license issued by the Montana Board of Plumbers, the main governing body for plumbers in this state, in order to work in this trade. You must pass both the journeyman and master licensing exams to receive your state-issued license. Further, you need to continue your plumbing education each year before you can renew your license to keep it active and continue working.
Becoming a licensed plumber in Montana requires continuous effort and education, but with the growing demand for qualified plumbers, it is a secure and fruitful career. Whether you’re moving to Montana from another state or just learning about different professional opportunities, here’s what you need to know about becoming a plumber in the Treasure State:
Montana Plumbing License Reciprocity
Montana maintains reciprocity agreements for licensed plumbers with four other states: Idaho, Oregon, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Reciprocity is only maintained for journeyman plumbers whose licenses are active and have no complaints filed against them. It is not maintained for master plumbers or apprentices.
If you’re moving from any other state to Montana, you will have to apply for a license before you can begin working as a plumber. You will need to submit the basic application, your state’s licensing requirements, previous certifications from all states and jurisdiction you’ve been licensed in, and verification of experience obtained in the field. You will also have to pay the $100 application fee and $300 reciprocity fee. You can submit your application online or through the mail to the Montana Board of Plumbers at:
PO Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513
Generally, out-of-state applicants have to sit and pass the Montana state licensing exam before beginning work. In that case, you also have to pay an additional $100 temporary work permit fee so you can legally work as a plumber in Montana before the exam. Due to a 2019 update to the Montana Code, however, the Board of Plumbers can issue a license to an applicant without their taking the exam if:
“(a) the other state’s license standards at the time of application to this state are substantially equivalent to or greater than the standards in this state; and
(b) there is no reason to deny the license under the laws of this state governing the profession or occupation.”
If you are unsure whether you need to take the plumbing license exam in Montana, please contact the Board of Plumbers at (406)-444-5711 or UnitB@mt.gov for more information.
Montana Master Plumber License Requirements
The Montana Code Annotated 2019 defines a master plumber as “a person who is authorized by this chapter to plan, estimate, bid, contract for, and supervise plumbing work and who may do the work of a journeyman plumber.” The classification of “master” is the highest status a plumbing contractor can achieve in Montana.
To become a master plumber, the Montana Board of Plumbers has two requirements you must meet:
- “A specific record of 4 years’ experience as a licensed journeyman plumber in the field of plumbing, with 3 years’ experience working with a licensed master plumber, or in a supervisory capacity in the field of plumbing, which may run concurrently with the 4 years’ experience as a licensed journeyman plumber.”
- “Successful completion of the master written examination in Montana with a grade of 70% or better.”
You must first submit an application to the Board and receive their approval to sit the exam. This can be done using the same online portal as for reciprocal license applications, or the Master Plumber Application on the Board of Plumbers website. In addition to the application, you must include the Experience Verification Affidavit, the Verification of Licensure form. You also need to pay the $100 application fee and the $280 license fee, in the form of a check or money order made payable to the Board of Plumbers.
Master Plumber Exam
The state of Montana has recently recruited changed providers for the plumbing master exam to the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAMPO). This exam is open-book, but you may only bring in the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code, the Montana Amendments, and a non-scientific calculator. You can take this test in-person, at different locations throughout the state, or online using IAMPO’s Flex Testing platform. You must receive a passing score of at least 70% to receive a master plumber’s license.
Upon passing the exam, you will receive your license from the Board of Plumbers. You need to renew it annually. The renewal process in Montana is fairly simple: all plumbing licenses expire on September 1 of each year, and renewal applications open 60 days beforehand each year. You must also take four hours of continuing education each year before you can renew your license. All of this can be done online using the general license and application portal on the Montana Board of Plumber’s website.
Montana Journeyman Plumber License Requirements
According to the same part of the Montana Code Annotated 2019, a journeyman plumber is “a person who is authorized to make installation of all sanitary plumbing and potable water supply piping and appliances connected to the plumbing and piping.” The classification of “journeyman” is the lower of the two plumbing statuses that requires less experience that you can achieve in Montana.
There are two requirements set by the Montana Board of Plumbers that you must meet to become a journeyman plumbing contractor:
- “A specific record of 5 years’ and 7500 aggregate hours of experience in the field of plumbing, or completion of an apprenticeship program meeting the standards set by the Montana Apprenticeship and Training Bureau, or the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship.”
- “Successful completion of the journeyman written and journeyman practical examination in Montana with a grade of 70% or better on both the written and practical portions.”
Just as when you are applying for a master license, you must first submit your application to the Board of Plumbers and receive their approval before you can sit the journeyman exam. You will also need to submit the Experience Verification Affidavit, the Verification of Licensure form, and a copy of your Apprenticeship Completion Certificate. Additionally, you must pay the $100 application fee and the $170 license fee, in the form of a check or money order made payable to the Board of Plumbers. You can either use the license portal linked above or mail your completed Journeyman Plumber Application to the Montana Board of Plumbers.
Journeyman Plumber Exam
Montana has also changed to IAMPO as a provider for the journeyman plumbing exam. Like the master exam, it is also open-book, but only limited to the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code, the Montana Amendments, and a non-scientific calculator. You also have the option to take this exam either in-person or online, but you must receive a score of at least 70% to pass.
If you do not pass the practical portion of the exam, you may retake it. You may even receive another temporary journeyman license from the Board of Plumbers, but only if your score was in the 65% to 69% range and you are already scheduled to take the exam again.
Journeyman plumbing licenses require annual renewal. All licenses expire on September 1 of each year, and you can begin the renewal process 60 days prior to the date of expiration. You must also complete four hours of continuing education each year before you can renew your license. You can complete your education and renew your license using the general licensure portal on the Board of Plumbers website.
Plumbing Apprenticeship Requirements
In Montana, you aren’t required to work as an apprentice in order to become a licensed plumber. However, this is a great way to learn both practical and theoretical elements of the plumbing trade, earn a steady income, make lasting professional connections, and satisfy the experience needed to apply for a journeyman license.
Montana Plumbing Apprentice Jobs
The Montana Registered Apprenticeship program helps interested individuals find apprenticeships in their chosen trade. You must have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent certification before or within six months of starting your apprenticeship. To find available apprenticeships, you must contact them directly.
The state of Montana offers two other programs that can be helpful for finding a plumbing apprenticeship: Job Service Montana and Montana Works. Both of these programs provide a variety of services for job seekers and recruiters alike. You can also explore opportunities offered by local plumbing unions, such as Montana ALF-CIO. Finally, you can always look for apprenticeships using general job-seeking websites, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster, and ZipReruiter.
Plumbing Trade Schools in Montana
Currently, there is only one school in Montana that offers a program specifically designed to prepare students to work in plumbing.
- Montana State University Northern
- Locations: Harve
- Tuition & Costs: Must contact for more information; expenses vary depending on program and location
- Contact Information:
- (406) 265-3700 or (800) 662-6132
- 300 13th Street West, Harve, Montana 59501
The Board of Plumbers allows hopeful journeyman plumbers to put two years of experience at a trade school toward the five years of experience required for licensure. While Montana State University Northern has two different locations, the Board of Plumbers only accepts two years of proof of trade school experience from the Harve campus. The Journeyman Plumber Application also notes that acceptable experience can come from Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Montana, but they currently do not offer a plumbing program. They also accept education and experience from the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota.
You can still explore other trade programs to get the education you need to work as a plumber, but you will not be able to count that experience toward that required to apply for the journeyman license.
Montana Professional License Search
To verify someone’s plumbing credentials, you can look at the search tool on the website of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry. They maintain a License Search tool, which allows you to search for someone’s state-issued license credentials by trade, name, business information, and license number.
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